New York, NY, United States (4E Sports) – A realignment plan detailed in an NHL memo sent to all 30 clubs calls for divisional playoffs, not conference playoffs as the NHL currently has.
The division winner with the most regular-season points will play the lowest-seeded wild-card team in the first round, with the other division winner playing the other wild-card team.
The playoff format also calls for the top three teams in each division to earn postseason berths. The remaining four spots would go to wild cards, the top two records in each conference. That means there’s a possibility five teams make it from one division and only three from another.
The schedule matrix would see each team play teams in the other conference both home and away.
The Eastern Conference would feature the Atlantic and Central divisions while the Western Conference would have the Mid-West and Pacific divisions.
The Pacific Division would feature Anaheim, Calgary, Edmonton, Los Angeles, Phoenix, San Jose and Vancouver.
The Mid-West will have Chicago, Colorado, Dallas, Minnesota, Nashville, St. Louis and Winnipeg.
The Central will be composed of Boston, Buffalo, Detroit, Florida, Montreal, Ottawa, Tampa Bay, Toronto.
The Atlantic will be made up of Carolina, Columbus, New Jersey, New York Islanders, New York Rangers, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Washington.
One of the core reasons for the NHL taking a distant back seat to the other three major American sports has been its inability to land a relatively lucrative television deal. One reasons for this the nonsensical placement of teams in the league’s current alignment.
Grouping teams together based on the time zones they play in ensures that more fans will watch games.
The changes proposed by the NHL in this realignment format come as a result concerns forwarded by the NHLPA, the two sides negotiating for the past three weeks on finding a better solution for realignment.
The NHLPA wants to further address it with its players before consenting to it. The plan also needs approval from the NHL’s Board of Governors.
If approved by all parties, the plan would go into effect for next season.